Trade associations are organizations that exist to promote a particular trade, or industry. They exist for networking and sharing of information within an industry, as well as for promoting the industry as a whole. Many trade associations gather and publish data about their industry, making them an excellent source of business information.
While some trade associations restrict publications and data to their members, many do not. It's always worth a quick Google search to see if the industry you're researching is represented by a trade association. Simply Google the industry and the word "association".
For example, let's say I'm investigating trends in carry-out dining. When I type "carry-out dining association" into Google, one of the first results I see is The National Restaurant Association. There are links on the association's website for "Research & Trends" and "Issues & Advocacy". I may have to search a little to find carry-out dining specifically, but this will be an excellent place to start.
Trade publications, often affiliated with trade associations, share information about a specific industry with people who have an interest in it. They can be great sources of information about trends, consumers, competition, threats, and companies within that industry. Examples of trade publications include Automotive News, Beverage Industry, and Candy and Snack Today.
If you're researching a specific company and are having trouble locating information, you can look to trade publications for an understanding of general trends within that company's industry. You can draw conclusions about the conditions faced by a company, and gather ideas for searching for additional information in local publications.
Trade publications are generally a great source of business information. You can search for trade publications through Google, though sometimes they are only available to paid subscribers (and sometimes they're free - It's worth a try!). You can also search for trade publications through a library database, such as Business Source Complete, which provide subscription content for free.
To search trade publications in Business Source Complete, type your keywords in the search box. Keywords are words or short phrases that you would expect to find in an article about your topic.
Example keyword searches might be:
After you click "search" and see your results, you can filter by source type by checking the Trade Publications box on the left side of the screen.